25 May 2020: Memorial Day


It has been one of those ‘finicky’ weeks in the studio.  I had created both the biped and the pedal assembly.  This week the task has been to get them to operate smoothly together.  Finally, mission accomplished.  I had to do major biped surgery.  Had to move his thighs about 3/4″ further apart.

In the end he pedals very smoothly.  Now it’s time to create his permanent seat and the cowl that will proceed him.

Today is Memorial Day.  I am a Vietnam Vet.  I’m glad to be able to say that the Vietnam experience for me was not a particularly negative experience.  And as a nation we have fought wars since then…in fact still are.  Sometimes I wonder what would happen if all soldiers in the world would simply refuse to fight?  It is my belief that human nature would find other ways to fight…we cannot help ourselves.

As I evaluate my relationship with my country (the USA) I have to remind myself that I am always in the minority and that I must be tolerant and let others be who they are.  Our government is a compromise.  It will never be perfect.  There will always be greed and hate.  On the other hand, we have tolerance for love, selflessness, charity, learning, freedoms of religion and speech and we can vote for those that serve us in the government,  In spite of all that is wrong there is a lot that is right.  We are fortunate.

25 May 2020: The Peddler is fitted to his pedals.

 

17 May 2020: The Peddler is started


Not looking very sexy in this undressed state, is he? Before starting the Peddler #1 automata mechanism I created the biped.  I’ll build the automata to fit the biped.

This one will be different from prior automata in that the entire powered mechanism will rotate.  This will necessitate the use of a slip ring so that power can be transferred through to the rotating mechanism.  Initially, I did not know to call them slip rings…I did not know what to call them.  An hour later though and I was more educated and can now source slip rings.

This guy is going to be peddling a little cart that tows the product table around in a circle…I want the little cart to be “happy and cute’.  

And out in the world COVID-19 is still in control…though it seems that folks are ready to try to get back to work.  I think that it will take a while for the balance to be achieved as we wait for a vaccine.  I remain disappointed with the national leadership.

17 May 2020: The Peddler #1 biped is taking shape.

 

4 May 2020, Product Spinner


It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a month since my last blog post…the world is moving fast.

Being of a mechanical mind, every time my wife and I drive by a sign-spinner on a corner of a street my mind works on ways that the sign-spinner could be on a bicycle-type of device…one that would allow the sign-spinner to relax a bit…and that would also permit people to notice and read the sign.

Take that idea a bit further and you arrive at ‘Product Spinner’.  For decades I’ve contemplated creating a product spinner…a little device that sits on a countertop and that attracts attention to a product or service.

I had just finished Surfer #1 and was learning a bit about how to whittle.  As the biped was nearing completion I began to contemplate what automata to use it in…and decided that now is the time for the product spinner.  

The image at the right shows the effort three weeks later.  The product spinner has gone together well.  It’s sturdy and should be able to run for years  It features, in addition to the pedaling and lever pulling biped, two product tables that rotate, and a third rotating shaft that at the moment is twirling a pennant made of blue painters tape.

As I write this blog post the product spinner (that you see pictured) lays disassembled on my workbench.  It is in the process of being painted.

It is my hope that I will be able to rent this product spinner to some sort of retail establishment.  My next blog post should show this automata completed.

On the world front, COVID-19 continues to impact the entire planet.  In the news are whispers of some countries and states beginning to loosen restrictions in efforts to restart the economic engines.  I wish good fortune to everyone as we learn how to achieve balance in this new life.

And in parting let me say that today is my 75th birthday.  I feel blessed to be living in my current circumstances and to be married to Cheryl.

Stay healthy.  

Cheers

-Jim-

Product Spinner #1 construction is complete. Next is disassembly and paint.

 

5 April 2020, Surfer #1 is completed


I challenged myself to a two week build…which I began 18 March.  The subject was a surfer on a board.  I’m pleased to report that I completed the challenge on time.  No motor.  I wish that I had included a motor because I really like the motion of this automata…I would like to be able to turn it on and sit back and watch it.  The motion is very soothing.  I’ll be creating a video soon and will post a link when completed.

The big deal in the world right now is COV!D-19 (the coronavirus).   The entire planet is feeling the effects of this pandemic.  Things will be different moving forward.  I shudder when I consider the cost of the bailout package that Congress just passed…we don’t need more national debt…and yet I cannot imagine what I would do if I was in their shoes.  A very difficult situation.

At James Coffee Studios things are sort of normal.  We work from home…so continue to do so.  However, business is way down.  It will pick up as social distancing rules are relaxed.  And trips to the store are far less frequent.  We had been trying to buy local.  Very difficult at this point to buy local and to support local businesses.  We are purchasing many more things online now.  Inevitable, I guess.  In a hundred years I wonder what “local” businesses will be?  Restaurants, bars, megastores, grocery stores…  Many of the small businesses that are on the streets of America will be distant memories in 100 years.

Surfer #1, completed 2 April 2020

 

25 March 2020: Isolation is Good!


Since we’ve been asked to stay home I’ve had more time to work on automata…which has been wonderful.

I am fascinated as I watch the world cope with this pandemic.  It seems to me that there are two options:

  1. We could all simply ignore the virus and go about our lives.  Some of us (probably many of us) would get sick.  Some of us would die.  We would overload our medical establishment.  There would be pandemonium and chaos.
  2. We could attempt to minimize illness and death while vaccinations are being developed.  

As a society, we seem to have chosen #2.  In my mind, this is a wise thing.  While there will be damage to the economy worldwide it seems to be the preferable method.

In my case, I’m in my studio many more hours per week and I like this.

At this time I’m working on Surfer #1.  This is a “Two Week Challenge” project.  I challenged myself.  Bottom line…I’m appreciating this ‘quick’ automata build and hope to do more quick builds in the future.  You’ve got to stay on your toes.  You’ve got to think ahead.  There is not a lot of time to redo things.  

Anyway…try to stay healthy…as the world turns.

 

The Red Telephone, a part of Electric Chair #1

 

15 March 2020, Resetting to a “New Normal”


I’ve completed the ‘mechanical’ part of the Electric Chair #1 build and am now adding details to the ‘story’.  This clock is to the left of the executioner.  I envision the shelf holding a coffee cup, a black rose, and perhaps a clipboard.

I just read that the California Governor has placed everyone 65 years and older into ‘home isolation’.  Wow.  That means me (74).  Fortunately, it’s OK.  Nowhere that I really need to be.  Lots of chaos out there.  I’m fine staying at home.  I spend most of my time working in the studio, which is great.

I’m finding this whole situation interesting.  We have the benefit of speed of light International communication, and a lack of ‘practice’ with pandemics.  And of course, everyone is a back seat quarterback, knowing way more about things than they really do.  This will all end one day.  We’ll be smarter.  The next pandemic will be easier to manage.  Mother Nature will be smarter too.

I listened to a radio show this morning that talked about the 2008-2009 recession causing there to be a ‘New Normal’.  Things would not go back to the way that they had been.  And that this pandemic will cause another new normal.  Things will not be the way they have been

I’m thinking that what I will miss the most while all of this is happening are my street organ performances.  Apparently I’ll not be able to perform for at least a few weeks.  Too bad…my street organ music makes people happy.

Stay healthy everyone.

 

A shelf is being added to Electric Chair #1. I anticipate there being a coffee cup and a black rose.

 

1 March 2020: Electrics Completed


It’s been a long time coming…the Electrics Module is finally completed and has been installed into Electric Chair #1.  It fits right in.  Nice to be able to work on this entire assembly while it is on the bench…and then to be able to easily install.

There are some tweaks needed to the interface between the Drive Frame and the automata proper…but this was to be expected.  Being under power things are much easier to troubleshoot.  I suspect that within a week or two I will consider the “machine” part of the project to be done and will begin disassembly and paint.

The Corona Virus continues to spread around the world.  China is struggling to get back to work.  Meanwhile, the 3D printer that I’ve been interested in has increased in price by about $60 (on Amazon).  Chinese produced.  Oh well.

The Democratic Party continues to be fragmented. They are in the stage right now where they beat each other up.  So sad…the process. 

This is the completed Electrics module

 

18 February 2020:  The Electrics Module


I’m closing in on the end of the build.  Not much more left to create before I disassemble, paint, and then reassemble so that a story is told.

At this time I’m working on the Electrics Module.  It is this module that will contain everything that is electric with the exception of 1 microswitch.  One module.  The electrics module contains the motor, a push button, a DPDT toggle switch, and a circuit breaker.  The microswitch is not in the module, rather it is mounted at the other end of the automata.  I am creating it such that it would be very difficult for someone to accidentally touch a hot wire.

In the image you see the beginning of the Electrics Module.  The motor is mounted and it hangs from two transverse shafts.  

On the 3D printing front…I am working with TinkerCad, Fusion 360, and Blender.  There is a learning curve associated with each program.  Before I order the printer I want to know for a fact that I can work with the bipeds.  Apparently I’ll be working in a mesh, or T Splined environment.  Once I know that I can manipulate the bipeds in software I’ll order my machine.

Looking out at the world right now it is the Corona Virus that is speaking loudly.  This is a virus that started in China and that is migrating around the world.  Many things are being touched (not including people).  For example, Disney has shut indefinitely two theme parks in Asia.  Container shipping is affected.  We went to the vet today and I asked her if the virus was affecting her…it is…she gets many of her fluids from China.  So she is ordering heavy at the moment.  We order from an awards supplier (our name tag magnets).  We received an email from them yesterday warning that there could be shortages.

No one knows right now, except our President.  He says it will go away by itself.

I’m wondering if this is the one that will take out humanity.  Who knows?  I don’t.  

On a personal front, we feel comfortable here….we don’t need to go anywhere…we have food on the shelves…we can stay away from other people.

 

The Electrics Module is taking shape.

 

4 February 2020, Pulsing and 3D Printing


The campak now includes 5 cams, with the most recent being the cam that turns on the pulsing.  One of the features of this automata will be the convict ‘shaking’ while he is being electrocuted.  I’ve played with the idea in my mind for months and have just recently built two versions of the pulsing mechanism, the second of which seems to be what I want.

I attended a Miniature Show in Del Mar this past weekend and found a doll seamstress who is willing to sew the outfits for both the convict and the guard.  Good news.  I was sort of dreading doing the clothing myself.

I’ve immersed myself into 3D Printer prepurchase activity.  I looked at 3D printing three or four years ago and was not compelled to move into the field.  3D printing has done a lot of maturation in the last few years and I now feel that it is time.  I had been lusting for a miniature lathe and mill.  When I carefully consider what I would be creating I find that a 3D printer is better suited to my needs.

Critical to 3D printing are the ‘filaments’ that are used.  I was pleased to note that in addition to purchasing strong stable filament (for gears, pulleys, etc.) I can also obtain filament that is wood, copper, brass, aluminum, and bronze based.  These last specialty filaments all contain PLA also…none of them are pure material.  But for my purposes, I feel that they will be useful.  

A primary use for me will be biped printing.  The bipeds are 11″ or so tall so I need a printer capable of that height.  At this time I’m considering a delta style printer, a FLSUN QQ S,  It looks like an interesting and capable printer that is receiving good reviews.  So for example, instead of needing to copper leaf my bipeds, I should be able to simply print them using the copper filament.

As I do this research I continue to be thankful for the Internet and for all of the information that is available to me (us).  What would have been so difficult that I perhaps would not have done it is now relatively easy.  One of the things that I love is the fact that I can access the writing of so many people…so many thoughts and opinions.  We are very rich right now.

Five of the six cams have been cut.

 

25 January 2020: The Scroll Saw


One of the important tools in my studio is my scroll saw.  It’s a Ridgid brand.  I bought it used for $50.00.  Immediately after it arrived in my studio I took it apart…inspected it…lubed it…put it back together…and have used it happily for the past four years or so.  It’s a very nice tool.

I had more difficulty with blades.  First is the issue of blades with pins in each end, or pinless.  Next is the issue of how many and what kind of teeth.  And lastly is the ‘which brand?’ question.  I’ve settled on Olson, 18.5 tpi, pin end (p/n 42401).  I’ve tried about 4 brands.  To me Olson is clearly the best.  18.5 tpi works well for the materials that I cut which are usually between 1/64 and 3/8″ thick.  And pin end because they are much easier for me to install.  My old eyes struggle installing the plain end blades.  I try to keep 10+ blades in my studio at all times.  It is not a good day when a scroll saw blade breaks and there is not a replacement at hand.

In the image you see the two new version 2 side frames being installed into the Drive Frame.  Hopefully I’ve thought this through enough that there won’t need to be a version 3.  Side frames are critical components that require a lot of time to fabricate.

I use french curves to help me with the layout of these frames.  I prefer gently curved lines to straight lines.

 

Side frames, Version 2, are being fitted into the Electric Chair drive frame.